Retail Roundup: May Brings Another Spell Of Slow Traffic, Shoe Sales Slip In April

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A combination of factors made May another sluggish month for retail traffic.

The shift forward of Memorial Day weekend along with other ongoing challenges — such as increased competition from e-commerce players — caused retail traffic to slide 6 percent during the fourth week of May.

That decline follows the previous week’s 8 percent drop as well as a 5 percent slip in traffic during the week before, according to Citi Research analyst Kate McShane and Cowen and Co. analyst Oliver Chen.

Retail sales and traffic have faced pressure from all angles over the past year. Footwear, although not immune, had proven to be one of the more resilient retail categories.

But the last few quarters have also seen shoe brands and retailers shoulder significant sales declines.

The NPD Group last week released its footwear-specific data for the month of April, and it showed declines in shoe sales across all categories except leisure.

According to The NPD Group, total U.S. footwear sales declined 6 percent during April. Fashion footwear sales slid 12 percent, and performance footwear sales decreased 7 percent. Sales of leisure footwear — which includes casual athletic, workboots and outdoor sandals — was the standout, gaining 9 percent in April.

Continuing a trend that shows no signs of slowing down, fashion sneakers were the top growth category for men, women, and children in April,” said Beth Goldstein, executive director and accessories-and-footwear analyst with The NPD Group. “Sport slides also grew for men and women, with some fashion brands getting in the game.”

Meanwhile, weather took a toll of performance footwear, Goldstein noted.

The weather’s impact on sales was quite evident in the seasonal businesses. Soccer and baseball footwear both declined in the high single-digits, and golf footwear dropped in the low double-digits,” Goldstein said. “Spring is an important time for hiking shoe sales, but in April sales declined in the mid-single digits.”

Looking ahead, experts say they expect weather to remain a deciding factor for footwear-and-apparel sales and traffic.

We believe hotter temps in June and July will be key to clean apparel inventories before initial fall deliveries,” Chen wrote on Tuesday.

*The information in The NPD Group’s report comes from its monthly point-of-sale footwear database. It is collected from the athletic specialty, sporting goods, chain store, department store and other channels.